Case study: Enabling Bitcoin as a medium of exchange at the Bitcoin Asia Conference in Hong Kong

The Bitcoin Asia conference held in Hong Kong on May 9-10, 2024, showcased a major milestone in the adoption of bitcoin as a legitimate medium of exchange.

This article outlines the strategies and technologies implemented to enable seamless bitcoin transactions for goods and services over two days, taking advantage of the self-custody capabilities of payment processing via BTCPay server.

Management summary

During the event, 212 Bitcoin transactions were processed, involving four vendors and totaling 7,714,253 sats, equivalent to HKD 36,974.63.

The average transaction was approximately 36,560 sats (approximately HKD 175). Notably, the system maintained full operational uptime with no errors in the bitcoin base chain or lightning network transactions.

What is BTCPay server?

With banks you do not have a choice between self-custody or payment processing in escrow.

For example, if you wanted to run your own fiat business, you would have to run a cash-only business, which poses a high risk of theft when capital is centralized in one place. This would also limit your customer base.

The BTCPay server helps businesses accept bitcoin payments.

To expand our economic reach beyond our local economies, we have created payment networks and payment processors that enable digital transactions.

But what have been the consequences over time of implementing custodial payment systems? Why can’t we have a digital, self-sustaining payment processor? What innovations, freedoms and data will customers and businesses have to sacrifice as a result of payment processing custodial? What should I do if my digital payment method (e.g. credit card, Apple Pay, Venmo) is declined even though the money is in my account? What valuable data (both financial and personal) am I giving away for free thanks to these services?

BTCPay Server allows us to digitally facilitate the cash transaction experience, meaning we can make digital payments peer-to-peer. Transactions do not require any personal information from the payer, nor do they require an intermediary. This eliminates the risks that come from both cash transactions and dependence on an intermediary.

BTCPay Server is free to use and completely open source, which means BTCPay Server is not a company; it’s just code.

BTCPay Server is a bitcoin payment processor that allows businesses and individuals to receive payments directly, without relying on third-party services.

The benefits of using BTCPay server.

Unlike traditional payment processors, BTCPay Server stores funds and does not charge transaction fees.

BTCPay Server is a highly customizable payment processor. It integrates into existing systems using APIs, and both individuals and businesses can tailor their payment processing experience to specific needs, ensuring seamless integration into their operational frameworks.

In addition to the functions mentioned above, BTCPay Server supports so-called Prism Payments.

This functionality enables reliable distribution of funds across multiple accounts at the point of sale. This innovative approach fundamentally rethinks the flow of money, enabling real-time compensation for stakeholders and employees.

Prism payments from the BTCPay server

How to use BTCPay server

Step 1: Set up a BTCPay server

For a comprehensive guide on setting up a BTCPay server, see this full step-by-step tutorial on YouTube.

Step 2: Ensure liquidity and price stability

At the time of writing, the Lightning network is the only Bitcoin scaling solution that preserves Bitcoin’s cash properties when making payments with BTC.

The Lightning Network enables instant settlement, requires no KYC, and offers virtually non-existent fees, similar to the experience of using cash.

For the Lightning Network to function, it needs liquidity. Providing liquidity often means running and managing a node yourself, but BTCPay Server does this for you.

At the conference nodes BTCPay Servers, in collaboration with Blinkwhich acted as a liquidity provider for the conference, functioned flawlessly and ensured that no payment failures occurred.

Blink Wallet was a liquidity provider for the Bitcoin Asia conference.

In addition to using an additional liquidity provider, we also used a price hedging solution in case we experienced bitcoin price volatility during the conference.

This risk had to be addressed because merchants who accepted bitcoin at the conference wanted to be paid in their local currency after the conference.

A bearish scenario for a seller would have received a $10 bitcoin at the time of sale while the price of bitcoin was high, and then, over the course of the conference, the price of bitcoin could have fallen by 50%.

In situations like this, when it came time to issue a local currency settlement for the seller, they would only receive $5 in their local currency, which is unacceptable.

To mitigate this risk, we used “stable chairs“, a Blink feature that allows instant conversion to a synthetic version of a stable currency (such as the Hong Kong dollar) at the point of sale.

Learn more about Blink features and services here.

Step 3: Deploy physical POS machines

Despite the digital nature of bitcoin transactions, physical point-of-sale (POS) machines were deployed to provide visitors and merchants with a familiar payment experience.

We used cash register machines Bitcoinize. These devices also facilitated the issuance of physical receipts on demand.

BTCPay Server Point of Service (POS) machines

Step 4: Simplify Bitcoin Access with Bolt Cards

To enable seamless bitcoin transactions at the conference, we also used Bolt cards.

These custom-made ‘Bitcoin Asia’ edition cards allowed attendees to convert fiat money into bitcoin for use during the event. The cards enabled easy NFC tapping on POS devices.

BitcoinAsia Bolt Cards

Step 5: Training for salespeople and employees

Before the conference, a training session was held to familiarize suppliers with the use of BTCPay Server.

The 10-minute session was effective, with minimal questions from participants.

A group chat was set up for support, which remained largely inactive due to the smooth functioning of the payment system.

BTCPay server machines in use at Bitcoin Asia

A full video of the training is available here.

Conclusion

Thanks to free and open source software like BTCPay Server and innovative solutions from companies like Blink, transacting bitcoin transactions at the Bitcoin Asia conference was incredibly easy.

The success of using the BTCPay server at the Bitcoin Asia conference demonstrated the potential for broader adoption of bitcoin in everyday trading.

Consider using such solutions for your next event or within your local economy.

BTCPay server logo

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